I have many times, with my tongue in my cheek only slightly, proclaimed baseball to be "God's game", because it operates in kairos rather than kronos, and the Cubs to be "God's team", because rooting for them puts one squarely in touch with eschatological hope, with the "now but not yet" paradox of the inbreaking Kingdom of God, with the liminal junction between yearning and fulfillment--all necessary components of Christian perfection.
This latest meltdown, however, imposes a more distinctly cruciform shape on the experience. It was brought into focus for me in this morning's epistle reading from Philippians 3, in which St Paul meditates on the fellowship of suffering shared by those who are "in Christ"--fellowship (koinonia, actually) with Christ's own suffering, and also with the suffering of the world.
The experience of turning on the TV just in time for the last pitch was, for me, a tangible sign of that fellowship. I mean here to be neither flip nor ridiculously serious. To say that the Cubs and their fans "suffer" as a result of the last three games would be to trivialize acutal suffering--cancer, combat deaths, natural diasters, etc. etc. What I have in mind is more like what a disciplined Christian experiences in the observance of Lent, or of Fridays outside of festival time. When I pass up the pitcher of diet cola when it's set on my table at a Friday Rotary meeting, I may find it annoying to do so, but it doesn't constitute suffering, if for no other reason than that the experience is self-imposed. It is, rather, an opportunity for me to voluntarily embrace an annoyance that serves as a model of actual suffeirng, a tool that, in its own small way, helps configure my soul to the shape of the cross. It creates a space in which grace can move. My soul's eternal health is the sum of tens of thousands of such small decisions to cooperate with grace.
So on this day after disaster, when I got home from morning duties and changed out of my clericals, I put on my Cubs t-shirt and embraced the agony of the moment, not despising the shame of it. My call as a disciple, after all, it to take up the cross, not simply become its passive victim. I am quite certain in faith that it will become the "way of life and peace."
How long until spring training?